Introduction to Gundam:

The Gundam franchise was first established in April 1979 after the TV metaseries “Mobile Suit Gundam” premiered. The first series of “Mobile Suit Gundam” was an instant hit, with its compelling storytelling, thought-provoking themes and, of course, its giant robots. This led to the beginning of a new culture which was greatly influential to not only the anime franchise but to model building and tourism as well. As we continue on through this blog, you will discover that the history of Gundam is a rather deep and interesting one.


  1. Introduction to Gundam
  2. The Origins of Gundam
  3. The Culture behind Gundam
  4. Expansion and Global Recognition
  5. The Rise of Gundam Model kits
  6. Did You Know?
  7. Summary

The Origins of Gundam

The exceptional mind behind the origins of Gundam is Yoshiyuki Tomino, a well-known Japanese director, screenwriter and novelist who is the great mind behind the Gundam anime franchise. Tomino can be described as a “revolutionary inspiration” in the world of Gundam, as he has transformed the conventions of Japanese animation as we know it today. With the premiere of “Mobile Suit Gundam” in 1979, the Gundam franchise was able to attract an audience through the compelling use of narrative and newly-explored character development. The ‘Mobile Suit Gundam’ franchise gained newfound popularity as the media broadcasted re-runs across major media channels.

Image: Yoshiyuki Tomino: Director of Mobile Suit Gundam

Overtime, Gundam has become a more collective term as the cultural impact behind Gundam anime has grown beyond the distinct “Mobile Suit Gundam” franchise. “Mobile Suit” meaning something along the lines of “giant, humanized robot” and “Gundam” referring to weapon integrated machinery.

The Culture behind Gundam

The Gundam franchise may also be referred to as “The giant robot anime franchise” has become a major icon in pop culture over the last 40 years, especially in Japan. In 2019, the franchise had reported $20 million in retail sales, with the culture spreading across many industries and through a number of geographical locations. Along with the growth in Gundam anime, can the invention of Gunpla kits - a portmanteau of “Gundam” and “plastic”, which gives fans the option to build their own replicas of their favorite mobile suits!

The franchise has made its way into various museums and noteworthy historical attractions across Asia, with Japan opening the ‘Gundam Base Tokyo’ museum, which displays over 1000 Gunpla models, making it the largest displayed collection in the world.

Expansion and Global Recognition

Although Gundam saw its rise to fame in Japan with the release of ‘Mobile Suit Gutsy’ in the 1970’s, it was not until the 1990’s that the franchise grew in popularity on a global scale. The Gundam universe expanded through the development of various spin-offs, sequels and films made for the big screen. Gunpla kits also played a major role in the success of Gundam within the growing fandom, as fans enjoyed having the ability to build, design and customize their own Gundam models.

Image: Mobile Suit Gundam DVD Case

Over time, the Gundam franchise has needed to adapt and evolve to keep up with the continuous shift in anime and entertainment needs. Especially as the fandom began to travel through newer generations of viewers and hobbyists. Not only has the franchise explored deeper themes, enhanced animation techniques and used different methods to storytell, but the Gundam universe has grown as well. Gundam is everywhere, as global recognition gives the franchise the ability to produce video games, novels and scale-model kits.

The Rise of Gundam Model kits

As previously mentioned, Gundam kits are often referred to as Gunpla kits, and are found in model stores all across the globe. The Gundam franchise had earned over $5 billion in retail sales by the year 2000.

With the rise of the Gundam, came the rise in commercial expansion for famous model kit producer Bandai. Bandai is currently the fourth largest toy manufacturer in the world, and is highly recognisable in the world of Gunpla building, with model kits making up 20% of their sales. As a matter of fact, in 2011, the LA Times estimated that with the total number of Gundam models sold in Japan, every man, woman and child has accumulated 10 Gundam models each!

Image: Bandai Gunpla Builds: HG, RG, MG, and PG versions of the original Gundam, the RX-78-2

Did You Know?

  • The first Gunpla, released in July 1980, cost just 300 yen, or about $3.
  • In July 2009, Bandai built a 1/1 scale RX-78-2 to celebrate Gundam’s 30th anniversary. Which still stands in Odaiba, Tokyo.
  • The Gundam franchise made over $976 million in sales in 2022. Model kits accounting for over half of these sales


Since the inception of ‘Mobile Suit Gundam’ in 1979, the Gundam franchise has inspired a worldwide audience of anime enthusiasts and model building experts. The franchise has shaped an entire culture and is continuously influencing and inspiring model builders everywhere.

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